LOS ANGELES--Honda's U.S. executives have pledged for years to make Acura a top-tier luxury brand, on par with Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW. Dealer Dave Conant is gambling $20 million that this time Honda will succeed.
That's how much Conant spent to upgrade his Acura dealership in suburban Los Angeles. The renovated store opened in May.
"We invested in this facility on the bet they really mean it," Conant told Automotive News.
Jeff Conrad, vice president of American Honda Motor's Acura division, concedes that dealers' expectations are high. He says Acura is working to improve its vehicles, marketing, and retail network. But achieving those goals will take time, he warns.
"Every product we launch becomes more of a Tier One product." Conrad says. "But you don't just snap your fingers and do it overnight. It is a long-term effort."
The redesigned 2009 Acura TL, a compact sedan that emerged from the brand's new design center in Torrance, Calif., is competitive with better-selling luxury models in styling and performance, Conrad says.
The TL has a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine and offers all-wheel drive as an option. It went on sale this fall with a base sticker price of $34,955, including shipping.
Acura dealers say they like the revamped TL. But T.Y. Lai, COO of the western region for DCH Auto Group, says sales of the redesigned model have been disappointing.
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